Even though the first four episodes of KBS‘ new drama Trot Lovers were not very convincing, the viewer ratings have been slowly rising over these last few episodes. Did these additional viewers make the right choice by tuning in? Let’s take a look!
The main criticisms in the last post on the show were the rather unlikable male leading characters and the miniscule amount of actual trot portrayed in the show. In contrast to that, the female leading character, Choi Choon-hee (played by Eunji), and the comedic aspects of the show were praised.
The recent episodes have obviously made some attempt at making both fallen star Jang Joon-hyun (Ji Hyun-woo) and CEO Jo Geun-woo (Shin Sung-rok) more likable. For one, Joon-hyun is finally allowed to move into the Chois’ apartment instead of sleeping on a bank outside. This comes about after Choon-hee finds out that he has been working for her former boss so that she could enter the Shine Star agency.
Joon-hyun’s moving in leads to some of the happiest scenes in the drama — e.g. when he and Byul clean the apartment or when the three of them are eating dinner together. The familial feeling this sight evokes is lovely to witness, especially when compared to the way Joon-hyun behaved before. Living with the Chois makes him care more about Choon-hee and gives him a new sense of loyalty. Conflicts naturally start to arise when he realizes — how else could it be? — that he has romantic feelings for Choon-hee.
These conflicts are mainly carried out between Joon-hyun and Geun-woo, who has been quicker in realizing his feelings for Choon-hee and swiftly confesses to her. Yet, the young CEO seems like an inscrutable person. While he becomes aware of his feelings for Choon-hee, he still plays the valiant knight in shining armor for Lee Soo-in (Lee Se-young).
That in itself would not be a problem, but is he not aware that she might understand these actions the wrong way? Even though Geun-woo is written as a character with a somewhat special mentality, Soo-in is sending such clear signals that it should be hard for him to overlook them.
The conflict between Joon-hyun and Geun-woo is part of the typical intense-stares, I-like-her-more-than-you-do kind of love triangle one already knows from many other dramas. This development was foreseeable though, so complaining about it seems useless.
Just as foreseeable must be the turn for the worse that Soo-in’s character has taken. After initially welcoming Choon-hee in a rather neutral manner, her feelings have now changed to hate for her rival. It is good to see that Soo-in gets at least a bit of a backstory — her mother is an overzealous former singer and she herself a trainee who was used to being a favorite within the company. But the fact that dramas need to rely on rivalries between women (which are mostly fueled by romantic interests) to create tension is disappointing to say the least.
As for the second criticism, luckily Trot Lovers has now established enough of a storyline to finally focus more on Choon-hee’s development as a trot singer. Things start happening rather quickly for her since the CEO likes her: Not only does she participate in a TV show, she also releases her first single.
Although the speed with which Choon-hee’s career advances might be unrealistic, viewers who began watching the show for the trot aspect surely won’t complain (unless it is about Choon-hee seemingly only getting these opportunities because a guy is in love with her and not because of her talent). The audience gets treated to Eunji’s lovely voice and even to a duet between her and Ji Hyun-woo.
The praised comedy of the show is not always easy to spot among all the drama and intrigues, but it is there when Byul actively ships her sister and Geun-woo. The loan sharks who support Choon-hee to get back the money her father owes them also grow more and more likable. Their appearance always means a harmless comedic interlude which can potentially entertain the viewer.
When considering the progression of Trot Lovers so far, what might worry the viewer is how so many of the currently loose ends are supposed to be tied together. Though information from sources differs, it seems like the drama is going for a 16-episode run. In just eight more episodes, how will the whole disappearing father storyline turn out?
At the same time, the drama has also just opened up the possibility of Soo-in’s mother being responsible for the death of Choon-hee’s mother. Add to that Joon-hyun’s decision to leave Choon-hee’s life and the minor love story between Joon-hyun’s former manager and Shin Bo-ra‘s character — the drama truly has a lot to deal with in a short amount of time.
What do you think of the progression of the storyline on Trot Lovers, SB readers? Is anyone still watching at all? What makes you tune in every week?
(Images via KBS, Woman Chosun magazine)